Friday, March 23, 2012

Alien Ingredient #24: Kinh Giới

This is a fun herb that I have never heard of before. At first, I mistook it for Lemon Balm, an herb that we grow here at the restaurant for its wonderful lemon flavor. With its square hairy stems, this mint (Elsholtzia ciliata) differs only in very slight ways from lemon balm. Tasting it, the flavor is slightly different too. It reminds me more of lemon zest than lemon balm does. Lemon balm has a slightly more lemongrass/citronella flavor. Of all the lemon-flavored herbs, this Vietnamese Lemon Balm is the closest imitator of lemon zest. It really is quite good and I look forward to converting this to a sorbet or granita for our tasting menus this week.

Vote: An herbal dead ringer for lemon zest. Excellent!

Postscript April 14, 2012. Kinh Giới has found a place on our appetizer menu in our Shrimp, Lemon, and Vietnamese Lemon Balm Risotto. It is proving to be quite a useful herb.


  1. Chef Ed, this series is great! Is this herb from someone's personal garden?

  2. Justin, I doubt this herb is from anyone's personal garden. It looks to me like the local Food Maxx just picked up a new Vietnamese distributor.

    We are having great fun playing with new things all the time in this series. We have always worked with new ingredients but never so publicly before.

    BTW, Matthew dropped by for dinner last evening. It was great to meet him.